Skip over navigation

How To Pick Your Pseudonym

How To Pick Your Pseudonym

By Lisa Bernier

So you've decided that you want to be a writer. Yay! Here's what awaits you: sleepless nights, copious amounts of caffeine, a constant stream of rejection, TONS of editing, and more rejection. If none of this puts you off, then congratulations,  and welcome to the Super Secret Society of Writers (don't look at us like that; Hemingway came up with the title). The next question you have to consider is whether or not you want your critically acclaimed works to be published under your own name; if you don't, you need to pick a pseudonym. Plucking the perfect name from an endless sea of monikers can be difficult, so we've hammered out a few guidelines to help you choose the nom de plume that will grace the cover of your Great Literary Masterwork.

Don't pick just one name. Yes, Shelley, Sartre,  Woolf, Dickinson, and Hemingway are all known by only their surnames. That is because they are ICONS. You are not an icon yet. You need a first and last name.

Sometimes, alliteration is obnoxious. If you want to sound like a character out of a bad romance novel, then go ahead. If you want to sound like a real person, avoid consonance, assonance, really, any kind of —ance.

Sure, you can use your middle name. That just means that you're really, REALLY unimaginative and I have no idea how you will write anything interesting. Ditto for those who use their nickname.

Don't combine your dog's name and your street name. First of all, you may end up picking a name that currently adorns a porn star. Second, such a name has no meaning, no panache, no chutzpah. You're a writer. Have some flair!

If you must pick something foreign, make sure you know what the words actually mean. Don't pick Salle de Bain Mouchoir just because you think it sounds good, or you'll suffer a harsh blow to your confidence when you find out that it translates to Bathroom Tissue."

Make sure it's something memorable. No John Browns or Alice Whites. If you can't remember the name, how will anyone else?

If you can put a title into the name GO FOR IT. You thought I'd say the opposite? Heck, no! If you want to Lady Hawthorne or Baron Schweizer, be my guest. Your land is paper and your wealth is words. Clearly, you are nobility. Besides, everyone loves a good Earl or Duchess. Just stay away from royalty, because everyone knows Kings, Queens, and their spawn would never do anything so working class as to write.

Combine the names of two characters from fiction. This is good for two reasons: 1) it's an inside literary joke and 2) you can juxtapose characters that would never stand next to each other in real life. Be Betsey Ahab Caufield and laugh and laugh and laugh....

Try to make it into a two-word metaphor. Is this possible? I don't know. But it'd be neat if you could do it.

Use your real name after all, except put your last name first and your first name last! I'm kidding. Don't do this. Really. Don't.

So, what's your pseudonym going to be? We're leaning toward Esquire Seymour Vance III.

Topics: Books, Life
Tags: guides, writing, writers, funny things, how to, pseudonyms

Write your own comment!


Write your own comment!


From Our Partners